Talking your child into wearing braces isn’t an easy task. There are many reasons why a child or teen might need to wear braces – maybe they have a misaligned jaw or an overbite, or maybe their teeth are crooked. But most children are prescribed braces between the ages of 10 and 14, and as any parent knows, it’s hard to convince a teen or tween to do much of anything.
So what can you do? With the right approach, you can avoid fighting with your child over braces. Instead, ease them gently into the idea of wearing braces by encouraging them to ask questions, dispelling their fears, and telling them how wearing braces will help them in the future. Keep these tips in mind to make the conversation go more smoothly.
Talk to your child about any concerns or questions they have.
Don’t start out by lecturing your child about the reasons they need braces. That will just make your child feel more resistant to the idea. Instead, encourage them to tell you how they feel about braces. See if they have any questions, or if they’re nervous about any part of the process.
Listen to your child as they talk to you, and don’t interrupt. You might find they have a lot more to say than you realized. Once you understand why your child doesn’t want braces, you’ll be in a better position to soothe their fears and help them find answers to their questions.
Reassure your child that braces aren’t that painful.
Lots of kids resist getting braces because they’ve heard that braces hurt. It’s true that braces can be a little bit uncomfortable for the first few days they’re on. However, most people find that their braces stop hurting them within a week. For some people, it only takes a few days to adjust. In the meantime, an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen can help keep the pain under control.
Help your child find some role models who wore braces.
No kid wants to feel like the odd one out. Your child might dig in their heels and refuse to get braces if they feel like no one else has to wear them. Help your child feel less singled-out by pointing out other people who have (or used to have) braces. If you ever wore braces, start by telling them about your own experience! You can also do some research and find out whether any of your child’s favorite celebrities used to wear braces.
Make a countdown calendar.
In general, braces need to stay on for at least 18 months. That’s not a long time to an adult, but it can seem like forever to a 12-year-old. Make the time seem less like an eternity with a countdown calendar. To make the weeks go by even faster, plan to go somewhere special or do something fun with your child after every orthodontist appointment.
Help build your child’s self-esteem.
If your child already feels insecure or self-conscious, braces can make the problem even worse. Your child might be afraid of looking silly or getting teased. Help your child feel more comfortable with themselves before they even get the braces put on. Tell them that real friends won’t make fun of them for having braces, and help them feel good about themselves in ways that don’t have to do with their appearance.
Reassure your child that they’ll get used to how braces look.
Braces are much more natural-looking than they used to be. In fact, some of them are downright cute, and some of them are all but invisible. Let your child know that they’ll have plenty of options to choose from, and reassure them that the braces will start looking normal to them within a few days.
Tell your child about all the long-term benefits of having straight teeth.
Sometimes braces are necessary for good oral health. Having straight teeth will also help your child in their personal and professional life as an adult. Remind your child that, while they may not like wearing braces now, they’ll love the results someday.
It might take a while to talk your child into wearing braces, but if you’re patient and persistent, you’ll probably manage to convince them. Use these talking points to start a conversation about braces, and your child may even end up happy about the idea of wearing them.